Absolute Label Approved (Oct. 2010)
We're currently sitting in the trenches of the worst times for the music industry. With illegal downloading, advanced leaks and bands coming and going like the NYSE, we tend to forget that it's the labels that give their bands the most support. While the term "label" has become somewhat of a tarnished entity due in part to its word association with the "majors," there are still plenty of labels like Epitaph, Hopeless, Merge, 4AD and Vagrant backing great music for some time now. While we are more than aware of all of those labels, and what they're capable of doing and producing, we've put together a list of some of our favorite "fresher" labels we think you may or may not be aware of and need to bring some support upon. We asked the labels about their business models and terms of sleeper success so far and to give us a small playlist for your enjoyment. Read up and discover some great communities of talent out there.
Label's Birth: 2007
Number of releases: 11
Why You Should Listen Up: Black Numbers certainly have no shortage of musical talent. They've mostly stuck to either scathingly fast or fiercely melodic punk rock bands, like The Gaslight Anthem-recalling Banquets or gritty up-and-comers Go Rydell. But they've begun to branch out too, namely by signing PJ Bond, whose music brings to mind Conor Oberst or a more adept Kevin Devine. And that's really all they need to be considered a label on the rise. As long as they keep putting out high quality releases by bands that have the prowess to melt faces, they'll be relevant for years to come. Black Numbers can only go up from here.
Statement of Success (from the label): Not to say we think we're an incredibly successful label that's doing everything right, but I'd definitely say any success we've achieved has been a direct result of picking dedicated bands to work with. We work with bands who we know are going to put in as much as we are. On top of that, we try to tailor each release in way that really fits the content. For the most part we've found that going with limited vinyl releases, and D.I.Y style CDs has been a better look than just doing standard CDs. The people who are into our label and the bands we work with are usually into the collecting aspect of vinyl. We put together cool packages and give everything we can a hand-made aspect. It can be a lot of work and cause delays, but ultimately I think it helps us to end up with a much better product we can really be proud of..
A Message From the Family: "Let me rock your world for a minute. Having Black Numbers as a label is like having a huge studio apartment that overlooks Solid City. It's been really cool to watch BN grow from the very beginning, and I honestly think the entire catalog is made up of great bands that are made up of great dudes. As far as working with them, they've been great and they've hooked us up big time and worked with us when we've gone through some rough patches/tours." - Vic of Static Radio
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
Purpose - "We Are the Third World" from Discography [1994-2001]
Go Rydell - "The Golden Age" from The Golden Age"Title track from a really incredible album. We're super stoked on this release, and can't wait to finally get the vinyl out there."
Static Radio - "Fin" from from An Evening of Bad
"PJ's songs are fucking incredible. All of them. This one has a really haunting feeling to it that I think makes it stand out a bit."
PJ Bond - "Skin and Bones" from You Didn't Know I Was Alphabetical
Higher Giant - "See You Later, Chopstick" from Al's Moustache 7""Really awesome anthemic song to kick off their 7". Working with these dudes has been incredible and we're super stoked on this release."
Label's Birth: 2006
Number of releases: 22
Why You Should Listen Up: In a time where neon, synths and Showboat performances rule the main stages, Topshelf has put together a roster of passionate musicians that remind us of all the house shows we've ever been to. The label's roster is as diverse as your local Legion Hall calender, containing singer-songwriters, screamo and pop-punk. What all the bands have in common is their throwback style and reminder of a time when music resonated and left a dirt print on your heart as bold as the stain on said house show's carpet.
Statement of Success (from the label):We have really been fortunate to work with such great, honest and dedicated bands. Any success that we achieve is owed in large part to our bands working so damn hard. I don't know the extent to which this has helped us succeed per se, but every year we make a sampler CD to help get kids into our bands. The first year we did it, in 2006, we pressed 9,000 and it's steadily grown in scope every year to the point that this past year we did 22,000. Kevin and I have personally handed them out at events like SXSW, CMJ, Bonnaroo, The Vans Warped Tour and even local shops and shows alike. I think putting a face to a name and connecting with people individually goes a long way in establishing a following. Really though, the biggest thing that we can attribute any success to is working with bands that we love and just putting as much energy and effort into each release that we can. When you release music that you like, every album is a success, some just sell more than others.
A Message From the Family: "Topshelf is a label focused solely on the love of the music they put out. They genuinely enjoy the artists they work with and that passion is shown through the effort they put into each release. Seth and Kevin have been nothing but supportive of this band in the past year or so we have been working with them and any growth we have seen recently as a band, can be accredited to those dudes. Also, they buy us pizza when we are in town." - Pianos Become The Teeth
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
Into It. Over It. - "Augusta, GA" from Split w/ Everyone Everywhere
"Every time I listen to this song i'm reminded of why we started Topshelf. It's youthful, fun, and a beautiful song."
Pianos Become the Teeth - "Filial" from Old Pride
"Simply put, when I first heard this song, tingles went all the way down my spine — and they still do with every subsequent listen. It's that amazing."
Rooftops - "Tear As I Fly"[/button]from A Forest of Polarity
"For me, this song embodies Rooftops completely. The band effortlessly dances around sonic peaks and valleys and this song mirrors that really well — And the hook! Don't even get me started..."
Stand Up Get Down - "Who Killed the Forgetting Machine" from We Have Something to Celebrate
"Flat out the most fun song in the Topshelf catalog. Period. I will never not love this song. It's a shame no one knows who these guys were."
Big Kids - "Get Motion!" from Hoop Dreams
"'Get Motion!' got me hooked on Big Kids and it should do the same for you."
CROSSROADS OF AMERICA RECORDS
Label's Birth: 2006
Number of releases: 30
Why You Should Listen Up: Not often does one find whole labels that "get" you. There may be bands here and there that you love, but it's hard to find a person with so much signing power that essentially signs bands just for you. That's how I feel about Crossroads of America (or XRA for us nerds). Whether it be the instrumental rock of Metavari, the folky, brazen attitude of husband&wife or the absolutely masterful storytelling of Alexander the Great, I know when an XRA record shows up, it'll be great. And at this point, I don't even feel like that's bias; it's just fact (for me!). Plus, it doesn't hurt that when you talk to someone like Will Rose, the label's main dude, you just start to remember what it was like to be head-over-heels in love with music. We all may have different dreams, but Will is certainly living his. And it shows in the fantastic tunes they are constantly releasing.
Statement of Success (from the label): So we are working on 5 years of being a label! It all started out as a thinly veiled attempt to try and trick you bloggers into thinking husband+wife (all of the initial XRA bros played in husband+wife) were on a record label! Now, XRA is just as big a part of what we do as husband+wife is. If you asked, Joe Record Exec if XRA is a success, I think the answer would definitely be no. Almost 5 years in and none of us have ever been paid. Plus if we hadn’t done it, husband&wife would surely have paid our rent checks on at least a couple of occasions. Even though we’re not rollin’ in the dough, however, I think XRA has been a huge success. I think our greatest success at XRA is in the quality of the releases and the friendships that have been created through it. I think that our mission of gathering together all of these great quality Indiana musicians into one entity has brought the music we’ve all made to thousands more ears than would have heard it otherwise. The record label makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves and I think it provides that for a lot of people. It helps people fall in love with Indiana. I hear a lot less complaining about my beloved state than I used to and the complaining that I do hear makes me that much madder. Most importantly it’s given us all a great excuse to have a great time together and make lasting friendships and community. I think the reason for our success has been in our mission to support and serve our friends as friends first and foremost and have our support for their art come from our support of them as friends.
A Message From the Family:“It’s the best being part of a family full of the most talented artists I know making some of the best music I’ve ever heard. It’s sweet making music with people who also have a strong sense of where they’re from and have a similar take on the way things are and the way things should be done.” - Ty from Metavari
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
Alexander the Great - "Tree of Knowledge" from Faces Change
hustband+wife - "Proud Flesh" from Proud Flesh"Some times one song really sums up a record. Luckily this one is the title track. Its everything all at once. No holding back. Everyone is turned all the way up and giving their all."
Metavari - "Kings Die Like Other Men" from Be One of Us and Hear No Noise"This song is my jam from Be One of Us. I love the use of archival sound and the guys monologue about the greatness of Detroit is such a gem. Such a great mix of hope for the future and nostalgia for good times gone. It really nails that fierce love of home and feeling of a place."
Rodeo Ruby Love - "Beast of Joy" from This is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things"This one really typifies Rodeo Ruby Love for me. Just completely explosive. Singing along live is so cathartic and the line at the end 'Everyone before you just hollowed out my insides and wasted my love' is just gut wrenching!"
Frank Schweikhardt - "Soft" from Life but no More"The slowest math rock ever! The lyrics are so good and the drumming during the chorus is brilliant."
Label's Birth: 2006
Number of Releases: 37
Why You Should Listen Up: It doesn't help to be a fanboy of the first signing to the label, but when said label continues to put out quality, creative and challenging music, there's definitely something worth constantly coming back for. Sargent House has also succeeded in putting out a variety of sounds with their roster and garnering little excuse not to find something up your alley - and even discovering something new along the way. Match that to the business ethics of community not just within the label, but within the bands' fans and label support alike, and Sargent House is doing everything right in this post-millennial cluster we call an industry.
Statement of Success (from the label): First off, thanks very much [to] AP.net for being a constant supporter of what we have been building over here at Sargent House. We appreciate it so much. I think we have succeeded in building a respected and safe record label for the bands we manage to put their records out on. What started from necessity – I was a manager trying to retain creative and financial control on behalf of the artists I managed - has turned into a viable and well regarded independent record company that now can go head to head with any other big indie out there. I think that is pretty cool. [We've gotten to this point through] a lot of love, a bunch of my own money, hard work, a total belief in the quality of the music we were supporting and of course some heartbreaks along the way. It’s not just one person here. We have a staff of seven people that all contribute to this, without them we would not have been able to do so much in such a short period of time. We really just believe that more people than the mainstream media give credit, do have good taste and when there is a place where they can continually find new and great music, they will keep coming back and will hopefully help us spread the word about these musicians. Also the fact that we manage all the bands on our label allows us a freedom to do interesting and modern things that are much more geared directly to fans and for fans. That the old system of label and management being so divided I felt really kept that from being possible before.
A Message From the Family: "I want to refer to it as Sargent House, but aside from the entity that she has created and all the people who work really hard to keep it running, it all boils back down to one person: Cathy. Behind the shrewd business woman is a serious music lover and someone with so much passion for music that she single-handedly kept our band going in a time where things did not look so good for us. It's nice to be on a label with a roster that I am completely proud to be in the company of. 'Nuff said." - Steve Choi from the RX Bandits
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/battle.mp3]RX Bandits – "…And The Battle Begun"[/button]
from ...And the Battle Begun
"This was the band and title track of the album that started it all and made Sargent House management expand into also being a record label."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/04%20Aped.mp3]Tera Melos – "Aped"[/button]
from Patagonian Rats
"I just happen to love this song a lot from their new album and feel like it’s a good introduction to them."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/04%20Weak%20Man.mp3]Good Old War – "Weak Man"[/button]
from Only Way to Be Alone
"This one was real family style, it not only has Anthony Green on it but Dave Davison plays the guitar ending on it and the video was all shot at Sargent House – brings back memories of all the love and excitement I felt about Keith & Tims’ new venture with Dan."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/03%20Daisy.mp3]Fang Island – "Daisy"[/button]
from Fang Island
"Sums up the awesome of this band in one track."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/What%20Are%20You%20Dylan%20In%20My% 20House_.mp3]Native – "What Are You Dylan In My House"[/button]
from We Delete. Erase
"The song that made me start watching Native, the youngest band on our roster and one that I feel really passionate about the amount of talent they had so early on."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Gypsyblood%20-%20GYPSYBLOOD%20-%2003%20Endless%20Summer.mp3]Gypsyblood – "Endless Summer"[/button]
"The newest addition to Sargent House, and a whole new generation begins…"
Year started: 2006
Number of releases: 40 by years end with 2 book releases as well
Why You Should Listen Up: Is there a band you can outright say you don't like on No Sleep? I can't. Chris Hansen has developed an eclectic roster of artists - ranging from pop-punk (The Wonder Years, I Call Fives), indie (Tigers Jaw, Into It. Over It.), punk/hardcore (Make Do and Mend, Monument To Thieves) and more to show the scene that "no matter what genre of music you listen to, there is still quality music waiting to be heard." With a D.I.Y. mentality that rivals no other, No Sleep has been a step ahead of the curve and seen the potential in many quality bands before they were gaining recognition such as The Wonder Years, La Dispute, Balance & Composure, and others. Only time will tell what future household name will be on No Sleep's roster first.
Statement of Success (from the label): No Sleep is just about 4 years old and has come a long way in such a short time, especially over the past year or two. This is something I have always wanted to do and seeing it become more and more possible with each and every release is an awesome feeling. Seeing bands I truly love grow and get more and more support is amazing. I am thankful for the luck we have had and for everyone's continued support along the way. No Sleep is full of amazing individuals in equally as amazing bands/groups, and having people take the time to check everyone out is great. Thank you.
A Message From the Family: "No Sleep was, like most things in the history of The Wonder Years, a happy accident. I had just started college and reconnected with an old friend named Chris I used to skateboard with. The kid had grown his hair really long and looked like a totally different dude. The day after I went skating with him, I checked my Myspace (because it was 2007) and had a friend request from him that I approved only to realize it wasn't him but another dude named Chris with long hair. When I went to his page to delete his random ass, I read that he ran a record label and figured I might as well message him to ask if I could send him our split EP with Bangarang. A few days later I heard back from him, telling me he really liked it and wanted to meet. This was the first time anyone ever paid any attention to The Wonder Years. One meeting at Ruby Tuesday's later we had decided to sign with No Sleep. For the next two and a half years, Chris was our only real Allie -- one guy working out of his apartment. He helped make every stupid idea we ever had come to fruition and never shut us down when we came to him wanting to do another 7" or split or limited CD. We never really had a big budget and it never stopped us. Between Chris and the band, we had enough ideas to circumvent the normal ways you'd promote your band and try to think outside the box. In the two and a half years we spent signed to No Sleep, Chris never missed a phone call or text or email from us. There was never anyone else there to do any of the work but it never mattered. The dude was and is more than a label owner, he's our friend. I've had plenty of late night conversations with Chris about life. He's always willing to talk to me on the phone when I'm driving the van overnight and need something to keep me awake. We've been a part of No Sleep since almost the very beginning and we're going to be a part of No Sleep forever despite the fact that we're putting out records on a different label now. I saw this label start in an apartment in New Jersey, move to a bedroom in Huntington Beach and then finally to his first office space. Chris runs an honest label with all his heart and with Mitch and Chase working with him now, things are quickly on the rise. Mark my words. In a few years time, No Sleep will be on top." - Dan Campbell "Soupy" of the Wonder Years
"Chris Hansen and No Sleep Records, in my opinion, have done quite the job to restore much needed faith in today’s ever growing bullshit music industry. Only knowing of Chris and the label for the past two years or so, I’ve seen bands like La Dispute, Touche Amore and Into It. Over It. grow into bands that have become a staple in many peoples music collections, including mine. It’s encouraging to see the effort that Chris puts into the label, his ideas, and the bands that are apart of it all. I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Koji, a month back or so about how labels like No Sleep seem to be paving the way for what’s to come in the future. I feel that genuine, passionate music hasn’t been forgotten in this day and age but rather ignored and it’s promising to see what Chris and No Sleep are doing. If you haven’t checked out the label as well as the bands apart of it, I strongly urge that you do." - Balance & Composure
What the Label Wants You to Hear First
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/04-la_dispute-damaged_goods.mp3]La Dispute - "Damaged Goods"[/button]
from Somewhere at The Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/sleep.mp3]Touche Amore - "Honest"[/button]
from Touche Amore
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/rope.mp3]Balance and Composure - "Rope"[/button]
from Split w/ Tigers Jaw
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/salinger.mp3]The Wonder Years - "You're Not Salinger. Get Over It"[/button]
from Won't Be Pathetic Forever
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/windows.mp3]Into It. Over It. - "Corrugated Windows"[/button]
from 52 Weeks
Year started: 2007
Number of releases: 25
Why You Should Listen Up: Falling in love with If These Trees Could Talk led me to The Mylene Sheath, who have now become one of my favorite labels. Beyond supplying me with great music on a regular basis, Joel and Lindsay also showed that there's another side to the people that I work with regularly. Their friendly attitudes took me by surprise at first because most of us come into this job with no previous experience in working with bands and labels, which can sometimes lead to confusion on how to interact with them. However, by being extremely friendly and talking to me in the same manner that my every day friends do, they changed the way that I looked at them and my other contacts that I work with on a regular basis. They are what the music industry needs: a hands-on duo that help and promote their bands as if they were a part of them. Sure, they want the bands to succeed, but so do other labels and yet, it's hard to come across label owners that promote them the same way. Their excitement and love for music is infectious, and there is not a single band on their roster that's not worth checking out. In conclusion, The Mylene Sheath are great at what they do in every way and if you haven't had a chance to get to know them yet, please do so now. If you talk to them on their forums or place an order on their site, you will quickly realize that you're not "just another customer." As a music fan, I could not be happier with them and the music that they bring in my life. If you're a fan of post-rock music too, then look no further.
Statement of Success (from the label): The funny thing about our label is that neither of us had any label experience whatsoever before starting The Mylene Sheath. Neither of us interned for any other label or even had friends that worked for other labels. We just had friends in bands and friends that liked to write, play, and record music. I think in that sense, it actually helped us, because we didn't pick up any "bad habits" from other labels or be told how the "industry" is supposed to work. We were able to kind of create a model that we felt made sense to us and was truly artist-friendly. In all actuality, when we created the initial business plan for The Mylene Sheath, it was for a brick & mortar record store, not a record label. Thankfully we rebuilt the idea from the ground up and decided to start a records label instead about two years before we put out our first record. And obviously, any success we have as a label is a direct result of the bands we work with. We feel we work with the best bands creating music today. It would be really hard for us to fuck this up - all we have to do is make sure people hear them, they do the rest with their creative output.
A Message From the Family:"My band was lucky enough to be the first official Mylene Sheath release, and we couldn't be happier that were still working with them today. Lindsay and Joel are some of the most honest and enthusiastic people we have met since we started this band. They run the label like a family and make you feel as if you are friends first and business partners second. To see them grow as much as they have is a testament to the work and dedication that they have put behind each and every release." - Michael Socrates, If These Trees Could Talk
"Working with Joel and Lindsay has been nothing short of a pleasure. The learning curve of running a label has fit quite nicely with the learning curve of running a band. They strive to give the bands as much creative freedom and support as they're able to afford and are always honest and clear with their intention and delivery of information. Joel and Lindsay continually bring their warm, caring, open attitudes to all business matters between them and Beware of Safety. From the first phone call to discuss a relationship between us, the conversations have all been about what's best for the fans and the prime motivation has been simply to share the music in a unique and memorable way. The support of a label for a band our size is extremely helpful and I honestly don't think we'd be in the same place without The Mylene Sheath in our corner. One of their primary goals is to allow the bands the luxury of simply focusing on writing music without getting bogged down by the minutia of the record/CD pressing process, marketing campaigns, advertising, etc. They take responsibility in their roll as the label and offer focused support throughout the entire process of making a record. Joel and Lindsay run a wonderful label and prove time and time again that their integrity and excitement for the music is at the core of their business model." - Steve Molter, Beware of Safety
"We couldn't ask for better people to work with than Joel and Lindsay of The Mylene Sheath. They are some of the biggest-hearted and hardest-working folks we've known. We feel as though they're practically family." - Michael Repasch-Nieves, Junius
"Having been in bands since my early teens and a dedicated follower of the underground/DIY scene it was always the big thing to be anti-record label. With aid of the internet and later the Myspace page it was no longer the same as it was for the bands we looked up to. They had to trade tapes and demos through the mail, whereas we newly had the ability to build websites and post our soundfiles on sharing programs to spread through-out the world. The DIY ethic never made more sense and the idea of signing your rights over to a label so they could profit from what could easily be done on your own seemed preposterous. Now that I'm older but not much wiser I know that independent labels are just like the independent bands. Mostly the people that run these labels ship orders, work regular day jobs, spend a great deal of time on the phone and internet speaking to pressing plants, promoters, publicists, media, the artists themselves as well as any range of person working within the industry...all on their spare time in their living room. Working with a label like the Mylene Sheath has never in any way been a compromise to the artistic agenda we've always kept in the forefront, yet they continue to grow and become a more refined, well functioning machine. What I like most about working with the Mylene Sheath is the family atmosphere, and the warmth they've shown us as we continue to grow musically. Every time they put out a release they take a gamble, and do a thankless job most music listeners will never comprehend just so us bands can do what we do best. That is, concentrate on making good art rather than worrying about much of the scary business that comes with making a record. Beneath Oblivion is going to start recording a new full-length album in two days and there is nothing that makes me prouder than knowing how beautiful it will look when the record is all finished and in my hands." - Scott Thomas Simpson, Beneath Oblivion
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First
"We feel that these 5 songs display the diversity of the label. A lot of people pigeon-hole us in this "post-rock" label category, which is fine and understandable, but inaccurate. The new Herra Terra album would further showcase what we're talking about, but it just came out - we felt it was important to retroactively sum up the label with songs are semi-recent, yet have already been heard and judged. When we personally summarize what this label is all about, it has very little to do with any genre or classification system. It has everything to do with hard working bands that sacrifice the comfort and stability of a "normal" life and lay it all on the line for something they're willing to die for. It's not just simple artistic expression, it's a way of living your life. Dedication, loyalty, and trust that we'll get each other where we're going. Together."
[button=http://verangomedia.com/~themylenesheath/assets/files/08%20The%20Raven%20(320kbps).mp3]Caspian - "The Raven"[/button]
[button=http://verangomedia.com/~themylenesheath/assets/files/06%20Stargazers%20And%20Gravedigger s.mp3]Junius - "Stargazers & Gravediggers"[/button]
from The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist
[button=http://verangomedia.com/~themylenesheath/assets/files/03%20Alagoas.mp3]Gifts From Enola - "Alagoas"[/button]
from Gifts From Enola
[button=http://verangomedia.com/~themylenesheath/assets/files/Midwestern%20III.mp3]Angel Eyes - "Midwestern"[/button]
[button=http://verangomedia.com/~themylenesheath/assets/files/07%20Hello%20Tornado.mp3]Actors & Actresses - "Hello Tornado"[/button]
RED SCARE INDUSTRIES
Label's Birth: 2004
Number of Releases: 40
Why You Should Listen Up: While they've been around for two years longer than most labels in this feature so far, they're still a little underrated and a great place to look for new music. The label began by putting out a record from punk rock super group the Falcon and bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and Cobra Skulls have grown to join the Fat Wreck roster. Plus, the record they put out from the Menzingers is one of the best punk records released in 2010 so if you still aren't familiar with Red Scare, you better get on it.
Statement of Success (from the label): Red Scare is a small label that was formed in San Francisco in 2004 while I was working for Fat Wreck Chords. Hi, I'm Toby. We've since relocated to Chicago because we have a lot of friends in the area and there's a vibrant scene out here. We primarily work with traditional punk rock, indie-punk, and acoustic artists. I've been asked to write "about the success of Red Scare", but like every other label, we're just getting by and we're perfectly happy with that. We've been able to get this far because we have virtually no overhead (no paid employees, office, etc), and the label is a true labor of love. The goal is to share music we believe in with the rest of the world, and I think we've done a good job of that. I'm especially proud of bands like Cobra Skulls, The Menzingers, and Teenage Bottlerocket who have developed and grown a lot since we started working with them. I'm also proud of the fact that we're one of the few punk rock labels that actually pay their bands royalties in this day and age! That about sums it up...we appreciate any and all support and I hope others out there enjoy the bands on Red Scare as much as we do. Cheers!
A Message From the Family: "I have nothing negative to say, I love Red Scare. All the band’s on the label we’ve gotten really close with and it feels like family. It’s fun. Plus it made Chicago feel like a second home so that’s really cool." - Greg Barnett from the Menzingers
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Day-Staring.mp3]The Sidekicks - "Day-Staring"[/button]
from Weight of Air"This song's a real grower and one that always gets a great response when they play it live."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/I Was Born.mp3]The Menzingers - "I Was Born"[/button]
from Chamberlain Waits"This is the "focus track" from their awesome, awesome LP on Red Scare. I've been in love with this song since I first heard the demo version."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Problems With Preconceptions.mp3]Cobra Skulls - "Problems With Preconceptions"[/button]
from American Rubicon"Cobra Skulls have a lot of different kinds of songs, but I am a complete sucker for their poppy shit and this is one of those."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/She Turns It Up.mp3]The Copyrights - "She Turns It Up"[/button]
from Learn the Hard Way"So catchy and I love the analogy. Few punk songs warm the heart like this one."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/The La-Z-Boy 500.mp3]The Falcon - "The La-Z-Boy 500"[/button]
from Unicornography"This jam is one of their hits and it's a hilarious one at that."
Label's Birth: 2005
Number of releases: 33
Why You Should Listen Up: Favorite Gentlemen is known for giving us one of our site's favorite bands. Favorite Gentlemen isn't just about one band, it's about the community of bands that are part of the label that act less like a business and more of a year round summer camp where all your friends hang out and hit the lake on the buddy system. There's plenty of dirty, southern edge to love about the label with upbeat rock and dark murky waters landscaping the soundboards. FG is a solid base of talent and friendship that will go a long way.
Statement of Success (from the label): I think the success we have seen so far comes from the fact that we started as a simple community and grew into a label but still operate first and for-most as a community. The majority of our artists have no contracts or structured deal. We simply work together in whatever way we can to help move their careers forward and we all work together to move FG forward as a whole. That means touring together, writing together, supporting each other, and being family first. Everyone understands that the success of one can lead to the success of the others, so it is not a competition but a shared goal to create great music and art and to help each other figure out how to present that music and art to the public, weather it be to build a career or just to know that it is being enjoyed. I believe another important piece of our success so far has been building relationships not just within our community but with other artists, businesses, and just people in general. Building a relationship with the people you come in contact with instead of just using them for what is needed at the time goes a long way. The majority of good opportunities that have come our way have been a result of building real relationships with people and them giving us a chance with a good opportunity later down the road.
A Message From the Family: "Favorite Gentlemen started as a family and as a group of tight nit friends that would do anything for one another at the drop of a hat, and remains such today. We consider it a privilege to be a part of something so communal." - Michael of O'Brother
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
"You all probably have heard Manchester Orchestra so I am not going to waste one of my 5 songs on them even though they are where FG started. There are so many more than this that I would like to share with you but here are a few that I think represent the label/community well."
[button="http://favoritegentlemen.com/ap/05%20Brother%27s%20Blood.mp3"]Kevin Devine - "Brother's Blood"[/button]
from Brother's Blood"This song has always moved me since the very first time I heard it. Kevin's Band (The Goddamn Band) is a community in itself and is continually changing and evolving and has many members that come and go and participate as they are available to. I think that you hear the influence of the GDB on this song more than anywhere else and I feel that Kevin is taken to another level because of that and is able to contribute to his own song in a different way than usual. If you have the chance to witness this song performed live with the GDB you can see and hear the difference and I absolutely love it. This is also the title track of the first release we put out with Kevin and just the fact that we were able to be a part of this album was amazing to me."
[button="http://favoritegentlemen.com/ap/01%20Stay.mp3"]Harrison Hudson - "Stay"[/button]
"Harrison Hudson has played in bands with so many other Favorite Gentlemen artists and was the first added to the community and the first signed to the label. He also helps a great deal with various design work, photography, and even some day to day label tasks here and there. This is a song he collaborated with Andy Hull and Robert McDowell on. It hasn't been officially released other than on a label sampler we handed out during SxSW."
[button="http://favoritegentlemen.com/ap/01%20Burn%20Hot%20The%20Records.mp3 "]All Get Out - "Burn Hot The Records"[/button]
"All Get Out was the first outside band signed to the label. They are not from Atlanta but we met them on the road and became friends and saw a ton of potential in them. We released an EP for them and are working on a full length for release next year. This is a song they recorded on their own right after recording the album. It isn't necessarily the best example of their sound but I think it is a badass song. I am extremely excited for everyone to hear the new album.
[button="http://favoritegentlemen.com/ap/02%20Shaking%20Like%20A%20Leaf.mp3" ]Death On Two Wheels - "Shaking Like A Leaf"[/button]
from Separation of Church and Fate"DO2W is a newer addition to the family but their lead singer Trae has been around and loosely tied into our family for a long time. It wasn't until I randomly caught one of their shows and was kicked in the face by the fact that Trae is pure rock and roll on stage and one of the most badass front men I have seen in ages. The whole band puts on a loud, dirty, sweaty, southern, swagger filled show that I can't get enough of. This is one of my favorite songs on the album."
[button="http://favoritegentlemen.com/ap/01%20Providence.mp3"]O'Brother - "Providence"[/button]
from The Death of the Day"O'Brother has been part of the community for a long time and has gone through a lot of changes but has really evolved and come into their own this past year. They released an EP titled The Death Of Day that this song is on and have been touring non stop in support of artists like Manchester Orchestra, The Dear Hunter, Thrice, and Circa Survive. Their songwriting is epic and dark but hopeful and they are a beast live. They are heading into the studio soon to record a full length album and if it is even close to as good as this song I will be very happy.
Label's Birth: 2008
Number of Releases: 21 and 3 books
Why You Should Listen Up: This is the kind of reputation futurerecordings has built: it's gotten to the point where you can expect anything they release to be golden - or at the very least, be quality. It's surprising, then, that they often go unmentioned when people ask for recommendations for instrumental music.Their roster is loaded; from the more popular The Ascent of Everest, to the gorgeous drone act We All Inherit the Moon to the intricate and gorgeous [The] Slowest Runner [in all the World], every note is played with transcendent heartstrings-tugging in mind - and that's only scratching the surface. With the majority of releases available for free download on Bandcamp, to say that you can't go wrong with futurerecordings is an understatement in the truest sense of the word. They are truly one of the premiere labels pushing instrumental music today.
Statement of Success (from the label): When I first started futurerecordings I wanted to be a label that you could trust. I grew up on labels that were just amazing, all of the bands were great. Labels like Touch and Go, Dischord, Drag City, Domino--just solid labels. You went to the record shop and if it was under that label chances are it was good. I wanted to bring that community sense to my label. I was very lucky in finding and releasing the bands on futurerecordings.They all share an aesthetic, not so much a sound, but definitely a feel. I hope that if someone likes one band on the label they could find something to like in any of the others. I also put a lot of time and effort into the packaging and I think a lot of people early on appreciated this. And I had each and every release available for free download in audiophile quality since the start which has only improved and increased sales and exposure for the label and the bands. I still try to run the label as honestly as I can while keeping up with current trends. It seems to be working.
Message From the Family: "Futurerecordings was really the best label for a band like ours. We are big fans of vinyl and the handmade packaging he does is the kind of stuff we've always wanted for our releases. Adam has a very progressive insight into the way things are and where things could be going with music, distro, downloading etc..We always talk about directions and he's always into our input. There 's always a ton of cross talk and just real community on the label." - Josh from Fuck, I'm a ghost
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
"It would be hard to select [five songs] because I have a special love for all of the bands, but I'll do five of my faves."
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/03 Dark, Dark my Light.mp3]The Ascent of Everest - "Dark, Dark My Light"[/button]
from From This Vantage
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedi/futurerecordings%20-%20Drought.mp3]Fuck, I'm A Ghost - "Drought"[/button]
from Fuck, I'm a Ghost
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/futurerecordings%20-%20melody%20summer%20-%2002%20summer%20v.mp3]The Tumbled Sea - "Summer V"[/button]
from Melody Summer
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/futurerecordings%20-%20sketch%20(adrift).mp3]woodworkings - "Sketch (Adrift)"[/button]
from We Sit on Floors, We Stand on Chairs
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/futurerecordings%20-%20Through%20Valleys.mp3]Stubborn tiny lights vs clustering darkness forever OK - "Through Valleys"[/button]
from The Infinite Regress
Label's Birth: 2008
Number of Releases: 56 vinyl/digital releases and a few tour edition CDs.
Why You Should Listen Up: Labels tend to promise a lot more than they often follow through on. So, what if the promises that most labels first draw up were actually done? Bands got what they wanted, the people they worked with were excited to give them a push and that all of the hard work & effort resulted in honest music that sounded fantastic? Luckily for us, this isn't fiction; we live in such a world. Paper+Plastick was founded by former Fueled by Ramen president Vinnie Fiorello, who also happens to be the drummer for Less Than Jake, a band that has seen all sides of the industry. Taking his knowledge of how the industry works and his relationship with up-and-coming musicians, Fiorello has committed himself to ensuring the label gives both artists and fans great tunes at a low cost in the easiest way possible. This isn't a group of suits taking polls and monitoring studies to find out what you, average music lover, wants in a mp3 -- this is someone who has been through it all and can relate to what can & does work. Helping both upstart bands and veterans, Paper+Plastick has yet to skip a beat or make any real mistakes. The bets part is, they're still learning and have only just begun.
Statement of Success (from the label): "When starting Paper + Plastick I wanted to bring the visual back to the audio; I wanted to have quality music with beautiful and elaborate packaging. Music has been a huge part of my life and this label has become an extension of my collective experience and ideas. Continuing to spotlight my favorite music and pair it with amazing art and artists is my number one goal with the future of P+P. Technology and how people listen to music is also becoming a huge influence on the current business and the future of the label, just as much as the artistry of the packaging and vinyl. While digital music doesn't provide the visual, it does provide the convenience of being able to get music 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, so being able to strike a balance is important."
Message From the Family: "For any hard working band, there is always a certain control freak factor that makes it tough to let any outside presence have a say or control over the bands inner workings. Don't get me wrong, to be at a point where there are people who want to help your band is incredible, but we still often operate with a sense of hyper vigilance to make sure that our baby isn't being held by untrustworthy people. Once we started speaking with Vinnie from Paper + Plastick we all knew that there was something different about him. Vinnie brought to the table a very unique view of his role as a record label owner and of the music business in general. Right from the get go, Vinnie assured us that he was only here to back us in whatever we want to do with our band. We relinquished no control, and gained an ally with years of experience both in playing in a punk band, and running a record label. Being a part of the P+P family has been an incredible experience. We are all extremely grateful." - James Carroll: vocals/guitar, Make Do and Mend
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First: "Here's six..." - Vinnie
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Transparent%20Seas.mp3]Make Do and Mend - "Transparent Seas"[/button]
from End Measure Mile
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/2.-Public%20Domain.mp3]The Dopamines - "Public Domain"[/button]
from Expect the Worst
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/03%20-%20Rearranging%20Deck%20Chairs%20On %20the%20Titanic.mp3]We Are the Union - "Rearranging Chairs on the Titanic"[/button]
from Great Leaps Forward
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/05%20American%20Hearts.mp3]Blacklist Royals - "American Hearts"[/button]
from Semper Liberi
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/07%20Who%20Told%20Omar_.mp3]Shook Ones - "Who Told Omar?"[/button]
from The Unquotable A.M.H.
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/01%20Australias.mp3]A Wilhelm Scream - "Australias"[/button]
from A Wilhelm Scream EP
Run For Cover
Label's Birth: 2004
Numbers of Releases: 29
Why You Should Listen Up: Run For Cover has constantly had pride in the music they put out and have catapulted themselves into the front of the pop-punk scene. After releasing a few of the best pop-punk records in 2010, they don't seem to be slowing down. With an ear for talent and creativity, the label continues to grow and impress music fans all over the nation.
Statement of Success (from the label): It's hard for me to say why I think Run For Cover has seen any success. The best answer I can come up with is that the forming of the label was a completely organic and unintentional thing, to a point where at the beginning I really never even thought about what it would be like to run a legitimate record label. Everything has happened so naturally that I almost never had time to second guess what I was doing, or sit and evaluate my goals for the long term, which are things I think people easily get hung up on. If someone told me when I was 17 and trying to put out our first release, that this is where Run For Cover would be 6 years later, I'd probably be pretty worried about the amount of work I just found out I had to do. Regardless of anything on the business side of things, I think the obvious answer is that our bands are solely responsible for the success of the label. Run For Cover has had amazing luck in the past working with bands who tour a lot, work hard, consist of amazing people and most of all write great music. Only 3 bands Run For Cover has worked with have broken up, and with the state of things currently, I think that really says something about the caliber of bands we work with. On November 23rd, Tigers Jaw - Two Worlds CD/LP comes out, marking our 30th release and one of my favorite records we've ever released. Simply put, I couldn't be happier with where I am at and where things are going with the label, and I hope things keep going like they have this past year.
Messages From The Family: "I'm really happy to be a part of Run For Cover. Over the last few years Title Fight have definitely seen RFC rise to a well-established, full time commitment. It's pretty awesome when you travel the country/world and see kids wearing t-shirts from multiple Run For Cover bands. It seems like kids are excited to check out the newest bands on the roster as well, which makes it pretty apparent that Jeff has a good ear for what his supporters are going to enjoy. I'm definitely excited to see where Run For Cover goes in the future." - Ben Russin / Title Fight
"Jeff from Run For Cover has probably the best ear for new music of any label coming up right now. The dude has picked up just about every band that I currently listen to and has created a community the likes of which I haven't seen since Drive-Thru, except that Jeff didn't make any kids walk on his back." - Soupy / The Wonder Years
"Growing up I put all the trust a 13 year old could muster into record labels. Their bands would teach me lessons about music, life, and myself that I still hang on to today. Run For Cover is a rare breed that carries on such values. Even though a lot has changed in 10 years, if I saw my 13 year old self, I'd tell him to go get the Run For Cover sampler. I'd then go home and listen to my Punk-O-Rama and Another Year on the streets comps. Run For Cover Forever." - Chris Mojan / Fireworks
"Out of all the small-mid size indies that are around these days, Run For Cover has a dedicated fanbase of listeners who really support the label as a whole, not just the individual bands on the roster. This is likely the result of RFC consistently signing the best up and coming bands." - Gary / Crime In Stereo + Daytrader
The Label Thinks You Should Hear These First:
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/07%20Al%20Sharpton.mp3]Man Overboard - "Al Sharpton"[/button]
from Real Talk
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Transit%20-%20A%20Living%20Diary.mp3]Transit - "A Living Diary"[/button]
from Keep This To Yourself
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/03%20I%20Saw%20Water.mp3]Tigers Jaw - "I Saw Water"[/button]
from Tigers Jaw
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/Agent%20-%2002%20-%20I%27m%20Fucking%20Sick%20of%20Pe ople%20Leaving%20And%20not%20Saying %20Go.mp3]Agent - "I'm Fucking Sick of People Leaving and Not Saying Goodbye"[/button]
from I Wouldn't Trade That For Anything
[button=http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/apmedia/05-title_fight-loud_and_clear.mp3]Title Fight - "Loud and Clear"[/button]
from The Last Thing You Forget
Week 5: The one where Rocky fights Tommy Gunn
Top Shelf have some brilliant acts on its roster.
Hell of a list. Great job putting this together, Adam.
This is a SWEET feature. way to go Adam!
for a second there i thought ap was going to have it's own record label.
edit: this is sweet.
big props to staff on all their picks. can't wait to reveal more!
is there still an issue with the coding where next week these won't have the songs attached?
Top Shelf is the only one on here where I recognize the bands, haha. This is an awesome feature though, I'll be reading and listening through these when I have time.
sweet feature. Got the Topshelf sampler for a $1 at warped and after listening to it felt like I should have paid more. Need to explore BN a bit, but woo Go Rydell.
It'll be a travesty if Come&Live! Records aren't featured in the next few weeks. Best new label by far. In fact, my favourite label overall.